The chemical pathway that Cannabis sativa uses to create bioactive compounds called cannabinoids has been discovered by researchers. The research appears online in the July 16 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
U of S adjunct professor of biology Jon Page explains that the pathway is an unusual one, involving a specialized version of one enzyme, called hexanoyl-CoA synthetase, and another enzyme, called olivetolic acid cyclase (OAC), that has never before been seen in plants.
"What cannabis has done is take a rare fatty acid with a simple, six-carbon chain and use it as a building block to make something chemically complex and pharmacologically active," Page says.
Page led the research with PhD student Steve Gagne, who discovered OAC, and postdoctoral researcher Jake Stout, who discovered hexanoyl-CoA synthetase (reported earlier this year in The Plant Journal).